James Rodriguez believes Dominic Calvert-Lewin can reach 30 goals for Everton this season.
The 23-year-old striker has blossomed under Carlo Ancelotti in the past year and has already scored 14 goals in all competitions this season.
Rodriguez and Calvert-Lewin have dovetailed well on the pitch and the Colombian hopes his team-mate can become the first Everton player to score 30 goals in a season since Gary Lineker in 1986.
And if he does so, Rodriguez is confident he can help fire Everton to European qualification.
He said: “He’s a player always willing to score, he’s hungry to score goals.”That’s a great thing because all strikers are always looking for opportunities to score. I think he’s the same.
“He’s also a very young player, but still, he seems to be so ambitious. He’s hungry to score. I hope this year he’ll score 30 goals.
“This would definitely help the team achieve great things and get points.”
Rodriguez admits he’s still acclimatising to life in the Premier League, but is happy for a new experience after six years in Spain with Real Madrid.
He believes that playing in England is giving him a new lease of life ahead of turning 30 in July.
“I used to watch Premier League games since I was a kid. I used to follow all those great teams which played in the Premier League.
“Playing in a brand-new league is also a positive thing for my career. I’ll turn 30 years old this year, so that gives me a lot of experience, as we say.
“These new experiences give you a strong background, you learn new things. I try to learn new things every day, and I always see new things. In my opinion that’s very positive. I’m a very curious person in terms of football.
“I feel like I really want to work, so learning new things is such a positive aspect for my life.
“When you start playing football at 20, and you continue at 30, you’ve seen a lot.
“You’ve probably seen good and bad things. Now, after all this time, I feel like football is a good thing for me but you already have the needed background, including good and bad experiences.
“These are just lessons learned.”
Since joining the Toffees in the summer, Rodriguez has yet to play in front of his new supporters, having been sidelined with an injury when Everton welcomed back 2,000 fans for recent matches against Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United.
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He admits it’s a shame, but has promised to make up for lost time when fans can eventually return safely to football stadiums across the country.”These times are tough for everyone, really,” he said.
“Not many people can come to the stadiums. But well this is a very calm place, people love football here, they’re all very passionate about it.
“This is what I’ve seen from the outside, and what I have lived during all these matches. What I’ve seen is that people here are great supporters of the sport, amazing fans.
“They’re always there, and it’s a shame they can’t be present during games.
“Anyway, we’ll make up for lost time. These are tough times for everyone, but well they’re still there, always supporting us in the best way they can and we’re giving it our all for them.
“I’m always calm, I’m a very homely person. I go home from training, and vice versa.
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“What is happening in the world has not changed much in my daily life, nor has my way of seeing things changed.
“In the end, a player lives day by day. We take care of ourselves, of our food, of our sleep so I really focus on that and not on anything else.”
While Everton supporters are forced to watch the Toffees at home on TV, in Colombia the Blues have amassed a new fanbase keen to follow the fortunes of Rodriguez and compatriot Yerry Mina.
It’s a market Everton are actively looking to tap into, having recently signed a groundbreaking sponsorship deal with Colombian gambling platform Rushbet.And Rodriguez has welcomed the support from his homeland.
Speaking to Evertonfc.com, he said: “In Colombia, Colombians always support their players. And now they support us even more, because it’s not only me, Yerry is also here.
“All that support is also a positive aspect for the club, because they have more fans and more people supporting them, wanting the team to win.
“Having them supporting us is a very positive aspect for me and Yerry.”